Plum tart

When we lived in Switzerland, we looked forward to the month of September for its plums and plum tarts.     plum tart

Here is a great recipe I found on the BBC Food website.

For the pastry (though I cheated and used frozen ready-made pastry)

For the frangipane

(I actually used half of this and found it absolutely enough)

For the tart filling

  • 5-6 ripe plums, each cut into eighths, stones removed

To serve

  • icing sugar, for dusting
  • whipped cream or crème fraîche
  1. For the pastry, sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Tip the cubed butter into the bowl. Rub the butter and the flour between your thumb and fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

  2. In a jug or small bowl, beat the egg together with four tablespoons of ice-cold water. Pour into the flour mixture.

  3. Slowly bring the ingredients together with your hands to form a dough, being careful not to overwork it.

  4. Knead the dough lightly on a clean, floured work surface, then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

  5. For the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Crack the eggs into the bowl one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the ground almonds and mix well until combined. Set aside.

  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Dust the work surface with flour and roll the chilled dough out thinly. Use it to line one large 25cm/10in tart ring or 6-8 individual tartlet rings 8cm/3¼in in diameter. Trim away any excess.

  7. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case so that it comes about halfway up the sides. Smooth over the surface with a spatula and cover the frangipane evenly with the plums.

  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes (15-25 minutes for the tartlets), or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown and the fruit is tender.

  9. Remove the tart(s) from the oven. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with whipped cream or crème fraîche.


Chicken curry

This recipe is taken from the Milk Marketing Board recipe book, ‘A Touch of Natural Goodness’.

500g uncooked, chopped chicken       curry

50g butter

1 onion, chopped

1 piece root ginger, chopped

30 ml tomato chutney

285ml chicken stock

145ml dairy cream (optional)

Parsley, chopped

Seasoned flour

50g plain flour

1 tsp paprika pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 dsp turmeric

1tbsp hot curry powder

salt, to taste

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the seasoned flour in a plastic bag, add the chicken pieces, seal and shake to ensure chicken is well coated.
  2. Melt butter, lightly brown chicken pieces until well sealed, add onion and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add chutney and stock and bring to boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in cream and heat through.
  6. Garnish with parsley and serve with rice.

It’s jam-making time again!

IMG_7381We had a good harvest of blackcurrants from our garden and, using them as the base, I have made three types of jam.

For all 3 recipes, to sterilise the jars, I washed and dried them, placed them on a baking tray and heated them in the oven (160 degrees) for 10 minutes. To test when the jam was ready, I turned off the heat and spooned a little hot jam onto a chilled saucer (from the freezer). Once cool, you push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles a little, it’s ready and has reached setting point. If it is too runny to wrinkle, you return the pan to the heat and cook in 2-3 minute stages, removing the pan from the heat each time you do the saucer check, until the jam wrinkles. To seal the jam, I used the ‘upside down method’: you ladle the jam into the jars, filling them to the brim; then securely place the screw-top lids on top and turn upside down; leave to cool before turning the jars the right way up.

Here are the recipes (each makes about 4 jam jars of jam):

Blackcurrant and Strawberry Jam

(adapted from a recipe on

  • 500g blackcurrants
  • 400g strawberries
  • 750g jam sugar (the one with added pectin)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • finger-tip size knob of butter ((optional)
  1. The night before you make your jam, layer the berries and sugar together in a very large bowl, then cover and set aside at room temperature. This helps the sugar to start dissolving so you don’t run the risk of over-cooking the fruit when you actually begin to make the jam. The next morning, give everything a quick stir, then set aside again until you are ready to start cooking.
  2. Before you start, put a small saucer in the freezer. Tip the berries, scraping out all juices and any undissolved sugar, into a preserving pan, or a large, wide-based pan (the wider and more open the pan, the faster the jam will be ready so a preserving pan is really ideal). Stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Start the berries over a low heat until all the sugar is completely dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins maximum.
  4. Skim off any excess scum, then stir in the knob of butter, if you want – this will help to dissolve any remaining scum. The jam will keep in a cool, dark place for at least 6 months. Refrigerate jars once opened.Blackcurrant and Apple Jam

(adapted from a recipe on       blackcurrant-jam)

  • 500g blackcurrants
  • 500g bramley cooking apples
  • 2 tbsp Jo Hilditch cassis
  • 1 x 1kg pack preserving sugar
  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks and place the fruit in a large preserving pan (or a very large saucepan). Add the blackcurrants and cassis along with 2 tablespoons of water and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until the apple and blackcurrants have reduced to a soft pulp – add a little more water if the fruit sticks to the base of the pan.
  2. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until it is completely dissolved. Raise the heat and bring to the boil. Cook the jam at a rapid boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the jam burning on the bottom of the pan. The jam should take 5-7 minutes to reach setting point.

Blackcurrant and Apricot Jam

  • 1 kg. (stoned) fresh apricots
  • 300g blackcurrants
  • 1.1kg sugar
  1. Cut the apricots into quarters; remove and discard the stones.
  2. Add them to the blackcurrants and sugar and leave in a cool place for 12 hours.
  3. Cook for 20 minutes maximum, stirring from time to time and skimming frequently.



Pesto Pasta Salad

500g fusilli pasta                                         pesto pasta salad

For the pesto:

1-1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp red- or white-wine vinegar

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

pinch salt

freshly ground black pepper

Salad ingredients:

Choose things like chopped cherry tomatoes, spinach leaves, feta, black olives, pine nuts.

  1. Cook the pasta according to instructions, drain and allow to cool.
  2. Put the pesto ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. When the pasta is cool, add your choice of salad ingredients.
  4. Pour pesto over the salad and toss the salad well.

Raspberry and Spinach Salad

Almond topping:rasp and spin salad

1/2 cup flaked almonds

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp water

Combine ingredients in frying pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar melts to golden brown and coats almonds (about 5 minutes). Pour out on to greaseproof paper. Allow to cool, then break into small pieces and use to sprinkle over salad.


1 bag fresh spinach

2 cups fresh raspberries

Wash and dry spinach and place in large salad bowl with raspberries.


1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar (or cider vinegar)

2 tsp onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients and shake well to blend.

Pour dressing over salad (you don’t need all of it for one salad) and sprinkle with the caramelised almonds.




Mediterranean Chicken Casserole

Serves 8tuscan chicken

900g chicken fillets

2 cloves garlic

2 red chillies, finely chopped

2 dsp olive oil

2 red onions, sliced

900g ripe plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 2 cans)

2 dsp red pesto

570ml chicken (or vegetable) stock

200g tinned chick peas

55g black olives

55g pine nuts

2 dsp sundried tomato paste

handful coriander

handful flat leaf parsley

1.Cut the chicken into long ribbon strips and place in a bowl with the garlic, chillies and half of the olive oil. Mix well and cover with cling film. Leave to marinate for at least one hour.

2. Place the other half of the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and, when hot, add the chicken in batches if necessary. Cook until golden and crispy. Add the red onion and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, pesto and stock and simer gently over a low heat for 45 minutes, keeping the lid on.

3. Add chick peas, pine nuts, olives and sundried tomato paste and heat through for a further 8-10 minutes.

This casserole is even better the next day! So you can complete steps 1 and 2 ahead of time (the day before you need it). Make sure you heat through completely and then add step 3 just before serving.

Garnish with coriander and parsley and serve with rice.

Yoghurt Loaf

Easy to make and easy to measure as you just use the yoghurt pot!

1 carton yoghurt (whichever flavour you prefer)IMG_4476

3 cartons self-raising flour

2 cartons sugar

1 carton vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten lightly

Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon.

Pour into a greased 2lb loaf tin and cook at 190ºC for one hour.